You Should Be Dancing at Chicago's Best Clubs


House music was born in Chicago when a new club called The Warehouse emerged from the near West side in 1977. The Warehouse is one for the Chicago entertainment history books but the beats are pounding at a number of dance clubs around town. Chicago nightlife churns and cooks seven nights a week if you know where to go and sometimes it’s in the basement like The Drop Lounge , The Rec Room and The Underground  or atop an Italian restaurant - hello Studio Paris.

Smart Bar in Wrigleyville has been a destination for dance-partiers since 1982 and still holds its own with its au courant DJs while Lakeview’s Berlin harkens back to Belmont Ave’s longtime punk scene and simultaneously connects to the future. You may encounter drag queens, exotic dancers, and other controversial icons on the dance floor at this extremely friendly club.

The Underground is one of Chicago’s favorite places for dancing, drinking and people watching. It's fun to dress to impress at this club in River North where you’ll move to beats dropped by a roster of internationally-known DJ’s. Everything old is new again as Disco  which recreates the age of Studio 54, Le Freak and boogie nights. If you want to feel as though you're in Vegas, don your stilettos and head to TAO Chicago, the midwest outpost of the Las Vegas and NYC nightclubs. You should be dancing, yeah! 



If you want to feel as though you're in Vegas, don your stilettos and head to TAO Chicago, the midwest outpost of the Las Vegas and NYC nightclubs. Upstairs from the massive Pan Asian restaurant, the other half of the TAO Chicago experience is a 7,000-square-foot nightclub that you enter through 100-year-old Chinese doors then down a lantern-lit exterior alley. Sip cocktails (but know that bathroom lines can feel interminable), order bottle service and peruse the multi-sensory scene in the intimate front nightclub space or the expansive rear room set underneath a 10-foot bell and sparkly disco ball. The two nightclubs are separated by an operable wall that transforms into a one-room venue. Expect some top-tier artists and DJs.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: If BIG is your jam, you'll find it at the 34,000 square-foot venue TAO: sounds, sights, dance floor and crowds.

Jacky's expert tip: Do yourself a favor and get there before 11 pm on weekends or entry is iffy.

Read more about TAO Chicago →

Lincoln Park

The cozy cave-like setting and late hours attract those slinking around Lincoln Park in the wee hours. DJ's spin house, EDM and hip-hop in the low ceilinged space, The Drop Lounge attracts (what looks to be) the just-out-of-college crowd so you elderly 35-year-olds may want to take your creaky bones elsewhere. The youngish clientele may explain the number of gals celebrating birthday/bachelorette parties and DJ slant towards the 90's. Cocktails are around $11 but there are specials weekdays and $50 Champagne service Friday and Saturday nights. Known for craft shots served bomb style with alcohol and mixers in separate glasses (drop it in and drink up). For example, Tears at Wrigley consists of Malort, orange and a Bud Light, which when you think of it, is pretty right on the money.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: This underground dance club/dive bar thumps deep into the night in Lincoln Park.

Jacky's expert tip: The Drop Lounge is small so reserve a table for a group - you'll have a place to sip and rest between bouts of dancing.

Read more about The Drop Lounge →

West Town
Beauty Bar
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Beauty Bar

This dance club that also serves as a boozy salon is a great place for a manicure, martini, and dance party. The kitchy 60s decor includes glittery paint on the walls and salon furniture that would set your mom's heart (and hair) aflutter. Martinis & Manicures take place nightly until roughly midnight and reservations are not required. Have a salon themed cocktail like the Bed Head, Deep Condition or Blowout and then dance the night away to live DJs and riotous theme parties. The 00's, hip hop or Prince nights combine the right amount of funk and nostalgia. There isn't reserved seating so all tables are available on a first come first served basis. Beauty Bar is a favorite of bachelorette parties, too. If you RSVP online, and arrive before 10 p.m. you don't have to pay a cover charge.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: It's a fun and budget-friendly place to go dancing.

Jacky's expert tip: Check out nights dedicated to Prince, the 80's, Y2K or emo music.

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Lake View

Named so because the original owner loved the cabaret sparkle of Berlin during the 1930s Weimar Republic, Berlin has been a dancing planet of glitter and glee in 1983. Gay, straight, trans or bi (heck, you can even bring mom or dad) - all are equally welcome at Berlin. Weekends are packed but you can honestly join a party nearly every night of the week here with music video dance parties, drag shows, stand-up comics and theme nights like New Wave 80's Night and Cosmix Fridays. Drink specials are very affordable. There are two bars, a dance floor, wild decor and a generally sunny attitude. Bring an open mind and heart to the Lakeview club just around the corner from Halsted Street and Chicago's Boystown neighborhood.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Berlin has been the epitome of fun and dancing since 1983.

Jacky's expert tip: Don't judge a book by its cover or a dance club by its facade. Cash only,

Read more about Berlin →

Studio Paris
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Studio Paris

If you're into spying celebs, your best bet in terms of dance clubs is Studio Paris, a second-floor nightclub, above the French restaurant, Paris Club. The room's retractable glass roof is a bonus on warm nights, converting the space into an open-air dance club. The upscale crowd includes people in the fashion,media and entertainment business, and a roving photographer snapping black-and-whites give the place a paparazzi feel. Studio Paris has hosted big names in EDM, including Tiesto, DeadMau5, Avicii, Kaskade, and Calvin Harris, and there have been performances by well known artists like Jason Derulo, LMFAO, CeeLo Green and Rita Ora. Tables can be secured only with bottle-service reservations (which is pretty pricey).

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The retractable glass roof, outstanding DJs and a state-of-the-art Funktion One sound system make this one of Chicago's most popular nightclubs.

Jacky's expert tip: Wednesday nights showcase emerging artists that thrill EDM fans.

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Smart Bar, below The Metro, is a basement dance club that lacks pretension and welcomes all. Located in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood (two blocks north of Wrigley Field), Smart Bar doesn't care a fig about designer outfits just dancing and music. Regulars rave about the sound system, large dance space, lighting and the fact that the place has deep house history. Diverse bookings keep the space popular with fans of all musical genres as various DJs and performance artists joyfully rock the crowd. Unlike other night clubs in town, areas to sit down and take a load off aren't designated as VIP so everyone enjoys a breather.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: DJs spin a mix of techno, rave, funk, house, juke and industrial dance music for the alternative mix of clientele.

Jacky's expert tip: Be aware that the bathrooms are gender-neutral and you may want to tote ear protection - it's that loud.

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The Underground Chicago
Photo courtesy of The Underground

The Underground nightclub takes its tenor of exclusivity seriously with a military theme and unmarked basement level entrance. Those who live for a see-and-be-seen atmosphere feel right at home here. Bottle service and celebrity sightings are de rigueur after accessing the cavernous bomb shelter entryway where DJs spin until the sun comes up and candlelit ammunition crates serve as tables to hold your top-shelf cocktails. Party with a mix of Chicago-based DJs and nationally-recognized musical performers. Resident DJ, Dante the Don, is well known (he's also the DJ for Cubs games at Wrigley Field), but you can also expect talent from around the world such as The Ying Yang Twins and Petey Pablo.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Underground hosts nationally-recognized artists during Lollapalooza afterparties including the likes of Ludacris, Wale, The Cool Kids and others.

Jacky's expert tip: Packed to the rafters by midnight, the club churns with partiers on theme nights that range from costume parties to fashion shows.

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Lincoln Park

PRYSM is home to some of the best DJ and EDM live performances in Chicago on a weekly basis. Table service packages offer select seating in the center of the club's first floor or on the second floor overlooking the DJ booth and throbbing crowd from above. Artist performances such as TIESTO to G-EAZY keep dancers moving to familiar and brand new sounds and rhythms. Industry night takes place on Mondays in PRYSM and the place pulsates Friday and Saturday nights. A Champagne lounge, No.9, opened in April 2018 on the second level and celeb sightings include Nick Jonas and Jeremy Piven. Wiz Khalifa, Nelly and Loud Luxury have performed. Check out No. 9 on Wednesday - Saturday nights.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: PRYSM Nightclub features state-of-the-art sound system, video screens and intelligent lighting plus three full bars on two levels.

Jacky's expert tip: There are just nine tables available in the new Champagne lounge and the in-house concierge team can arrange hotel and dinner accommodations as well as transportation.

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The Rec Room
Photo courtesy of The Rec Room

If going back to the 1970's is too rich for your Millennial blood and your idea of nostalgia is Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, and Britney Spears - The Rec Room is your sweet spot for drinking and dancing under a disco ball. The basement setting means things can get a little sweaty, but the Mason jarred and canned drinks are icy, not terribly overpriced for River North and there's plenty of cushy seating to take a breather. Riffing on the memories of spending time in your bestie's basement hang out, Friday and Saturday beginning at midnight, you're invited to "raid the fridge" - a complimentary rotating selection of eats like fried chicken, pizza and frozen candy bars. Enter through Henry's and get ready to dance until you're singing, "Bye, Bye, Bye" NSYNC-ers.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The weekend dance party takes place in what feels like your high school pal's basement - with more books and better adult beverages.

Jacky's expert tip: Expect to wait, but there are drinks and board games to play while you do and once in, you'll be glad the crowd size is controlled.

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Photo courtesy of Kohl Murdock

Everything old is new again thus the recreating of the age of Studio 54, Le Freak and boogie nights. Derived from gay underground New York clubs, Disco was a white hot trend fueled by amyl nitrate, flickering strobe lights and unrelenting rhythm. Disco Chicago hustles its way to be a chic, late-night club with plenty of room to dance the night away, while drinking vintage champagne, craft cocktails or bottle service. Expect to feel as though you're in a nightlife sanctuary with pulsating 1970s Funk, Soul, Latin, Pop and House as a soundtrack. Those in-the-know are impressed with high-profile DJ lineups and residencies as well as musical talent such as Nicky Siano (an original Studio 54 DJ), The Knocks (J-Patt & B-Roc), Gigamesh, and Chicago house music legend, Derrick Carter.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Disco features a wall-to-wall LED dance floor, custom retro wall coverings, furry sofas, ornate mirrored ceilings, tropical plants and Lucite furnishings.

Jacky's expert tip: Located above Celeste, Disco is open Thursday-Friday 11pm to 4am and Saturday 11pm to 5am.

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Meet Jacky Runice

Born in Bucktown when bulletproof was a home safety choice and not a coffee order, Jacky Runice has been knocking around Chicago as a professional print, online and broadcast journalist and...  More About Jacky